iconimg Saturday, May 23, 2015

Viju Cherian, Hindustan Times
Nilgiris, April 15, 2014
Call him a scam-accused former minister or a visionary who ushered in the telecom revolution, but it is hard to ignore the former telecom minister and the DMK’s candidate from these hills in Tamil Nadu. A Raja, who spent 15 months in Tihar jail, is here to seek justice in the people’s court. Dismissing the NDA alliance in Tamil Nadu as a ‘bundle of contradictions’, he says he is approaching the people based on his performance.

He credits DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s leadership for restoring normalcy in 2009 to flood-hit Nilgiris in a record one month’s time. “I was a central minister and we together worked and spent almost Rs. 100 crore on this.

People recognised our efforts and remember what we did at that time of crisis.”

He says he is not particularly worried about the opposition raising the 2G scam issue against him. “The opposition is raising the issue because I am talking about it. I do not want to conceal anything. I want to tell the people that I have done a revolution. If the people accept that it is a revolution, let them vote for me. I have made it clear: I am facing the trial in the court of law and now I am facing the people’s court of justice. Before the court’s judgment I want the people’s verdict.”

He takes credit for having raised the Athikadavu-Avinashi water problem. It was when the report was about to be finalised that he was arrested and the state government changed, he says.

He feels that by raising the issue in the campaign, he made chief minister J Jayalalithaa panic and put the scheme in the cold storage. “Accessibility is a big problem in the AIADMK. An MLA cannot even touch the tyre of Jayalalithaa’s car.”

He feels that the 2G issue flared up because the UPA government was very weak and could not defend it before the court.

“When you have no vision what results is something like what happened in the story of the five blind men and the elephant. The CAG is interpreting 2G in one way, the TRAI is interpreting it in one way, the Cabinet is interpreting it in one way, Parliament is interpreting it in one way, unfortunately the Supreme Court is interpreting it in another way and Planning Commission is interpreting it in some other way.”

The AIADMK is facing anti-incumbency, according to him and will not last this election.

As for BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi, he says, “In a democracy everyone has the right to have a dream of becoming the PM. But it was wrong of him to compare the DMK with the AIADMK.” He is livid with the media for the way they treated him.

“It was very filthy. A leading newspaper published a story saying that Raja has kept Rs. 3,000 crore outside the country. I challenged it before the court. I asked them to provide proof and even agreed to die in jail. Where is the proof?”

Will The Nilgiris vote him back to power--it will be known only on May 16. But till then a confident Raja is busy touring the length and breadth of the constituency.